Fire TV owners could already control their set with voice commands, but doing so used to mean having to pick up the remote. Now that Amazon’s set top box can be paired with an Echo, the company has brought users another step closer to never having to lift a finger.
Starting today, users can choose specific shows, change channels, adjust volume and open apps directly from the smart home hub. The process of linking the two Amazon devices sounds equally simple — just ask the Echo to perform an action with the Fire TV and it will initiate the pairing process.
The functionality is potentially handy for those instances when your hands are otherwise indisposed. Like, say when you’re cooking dinner and don't want ground beef mashed into your remote.
Since it uses Amazon’s Far-Field communication, the microphones will default to the closest Alexa -enabled device, so you can switch channels and the like from another room. Of course, aside from specific tasks like turning on a given show, voice isn’t a great option for interacting with a complex interface. Channel surfing, for instance, sounds like it would be a nightmare.
The most compelling functionality in all of this is the one that’s still on the way. Amazon will also be adding smart home security camera functionality to the system, so users will be able to call up feeds from August, Netgear Arlo, Ring and others directly on the set. In a way, the integration lets a Fire TV-enabled set double as a big Echo Show. That's currently listed as "coming soon."
Amazon has also been aggressively working with third-parties to bring Alexa’s voice functionality to TV sets, releasing Alexa skills for Sony, Logitech and Dish. Echo's TV integration is available today for Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and smart TVs with FireOS built in.